TV Transcripts

“Understanding Our Wilderness” Part One
Broadcast #1533
February 20, 2022

Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1533 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: Well, I would like to just start this morning in a passage that has been used many times, but always we’re trusting the Lord to bring forth something that is not just fresh information, but something that’s relevant where we’re living. That’s what I need. And, I think the further we go, if we’re at all paying attention, we realize that, in a deeper and deeper way. We need the Lord. And, He has ways of showing us that. But He does it because He loves us, doesn’t He?

Now the whole book of Deuteronomy is, basically, Moses’ last address to the Israelites. You remember how God brought them out with such power? And, it wasn’t all that long, within a year or something like that, I don’t remember the exact chronology, but they had been across the Red Sea and out into the wilderness, down to Mt. Sinai and met the Lord there in tremendous power, demonstration.

He led them across the wilderness and it really was not but a few days journey, if you were just…if that’s all you were doing. But they finally were brought to the border of the land and the people just rebelled. They saw the giants, they saw the obstacles and they didn’t believe God, in spite of everything He had shown them and demonstrated.

And so, there was a, basically, a judgment pronounced on that generation. And the Lord said everyone who is of fighting age at the census, as we were going into all of this, every one of you will die in the wilderness except Caleb and Joshua, because they believed in the face of whatever was going on.

So anyway, basically, then afterwards they wandered for forty years and, you think about it, probably more than half the population had never seen Egypt. It was secondhand to them. But there was a generation that had seen Egypt and grown up and now they were the ones who were the leaders among the people.

But God wanted Moses to really reiterate the covenant, to go over their history, to give God’s promises, basically, to prepare them to turn everything…so he could turn everything over to Joshua. He knew he wasn’t going in. And they would be able to go forward and inherit what the Lord had given.

And so, this was part of that and it’s a passage, as I say, we’ve read many times. But it seems like the Lord freshened it up in some ways to me, and I pray that He will do the same for all of us.

And so, Moses begins by saying, “Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today…” (NIV). And, of course, he tells them why: “… so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors.” See, that goes all the way back to Abraham, doesn’t it?

“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

“Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” And then there’s the exhortation, again, to keep His commands, all the Lord’s wonderful promises, what He’s taking you into is a good land. It’s full of everything you could ever want. It’s a land of blessing.

And then he warns them, be careful when you experience all this you don’t get proud and careless and turn away from the Lord. But anyway, the essence of what the Lord wants them to understand in this particular portion of Moses’ words, comes down to this, that God was teaching them, wasn’t He?

Now, it would have been about as natural as it could have been for the people to have said, well, our fathers sinned and we’re suffering the consequences of that and now we are in this meaningless waiting around in the dessert. There’s no purpose in it. It’s boring. I’m just…we’re just marking time. My daily activities have no relevance to anything except I’m just waiting to see what’s gonna happen next. Year passes…years pass and we’re just…we’re still here.

And of course, you know there were times when they complained about how it was so ‘samey.’ Everything was just the same. But you know, don’t we ever experience those kinds of things? You know, we’ve seen the Lord work in the past and oh, we’re hoping, someday, He’ll do something. But now, we’re just kind of marking time. We’re going through our daily lives. It’s not really relevant to anything particular. We’re just…it’s just the way life is. There’s no real purpose to it.

Ever feel that way, emotionally at least? Intellectually, maybe, we know better. But, emotionally we feel that way. Every one of us, I think, fights that. And what the Lord wanted them to understand was that nothing that they had experienced in the wilderness was empty, was meaningless, was without purpose.

And God’s purpose was not just simply to play games with them and test…and all that kind of stuff. It wasn’t like He was just some sovereign monarch in the sky abusing them, because He could. But rather, God’s heart was always to lead them to something that was better! It was always to take them from where they had been and to bring them to a place of great blessing.

But God knows what we are made out of. And all you had to do was look at the wilderness experience, and you see human nature. You see people who were so married to what they could see and touch and what their experience in this natural world had told them, they were so married to that that they could not get used to the idea that there was something more, something better, that there was a God who literally could overrule and override anything that they could see and touch here.

( congregational amens ).

But we’re pretty much like them, in more ways than we’d like to admit. And God knew, in order to bring them to that place that was better, He had to teach them a lot!

And, how many of you have discovered that when the Lord teaches us stuff, it’s simply not classroom material? It’s not like we sit here and we get a lecture and now we know and that’s good enough. Always, God’s lessons are life lessons. They’re things that we can only learn as we go through stuff and as we experience Him, because God’s covenant with His people is not simply about bringing a bunch of people under a bunch of rules and having them practice a religion. It is all about a relationship!

The heart of the covenant was not a bunch of rules, but the heart of it was, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” (KJV). That’s what it comes down to, is all about relationship.

But bringing lost, helpless, sin-bound creatures into that kind of a relationship involves a lot and God alone knows how much is necessary. And how much is necessary right now, for you and for me, more than we know.

And oh, how He wants us to have His vision, to see through His eyes, the things that are going on in our lives today. That’s what He wanted right then, for them to be able to stop and think. You haven’t been wasting time out here. This has not been without purpose. I’ve been seeking to teach you something that you have to know if you’re gonna be able to go where I want to take you. And my purpose, again, is not just simply to keep you in a dark and difficult place. It’s so that I can prepare you for something that is incredible!

( congregational amens ).

To a place of blessing. How many of you think the Lord has more for us?

( congregational response ).

Well, how many of you think that what we’re going through right now is irrelevant to that, and we’re just sitting here, waiting, twiddling our thumbs, saying, okay, one of these days God is gonna get tired of waiting and He’s gonna act again? Everything we experience in this life is central to God’s loving purpose for us.

And one of the things that He says repeatedly, if you’ll read it throughout the book of Deuteronomy, at least…I’ve seen it at least twice. But, I know there are more instances where the Lord said, out of all the nations in the world, you are My special treasure.

And He called them out to have a unique relationship with Him where all other relationships were severed, particularly with the gods of this world which we know are demons. They were demon entities that were ruling over people. That was the culture out of which they had come.

They had a historical knowledge of God, but they didn’t really know Him. All they knew was the heathendom of religion about them. That’s one of the reasons for a lot of the commands that God gave. It was, I don’t want you to be like this. This is what they’re doing. You don’t be like them. There are a lot of details that had to do with God specifically addressing the practices of heathen nations around them and saying I’ve called you out of that.

But the essence of it was, again, it was a relationship, founded not upon the dictates of a great monarch in the sky, but a love, a real relationship. And few really entered into that. But I’ll tell you, that’s God’s heart! That’s God’s heart for His people today!

And you know, we read this about a literal nation called Israel. But I’ll tell you, God has a chosen people today! And some of Israel, praise God for every one that is, is a part of that! But God’s chosen people today are those who have been brought to a relationship with Jesus Christ!

( congregational amens ).

We were born with a natural life that we cannot keep, as we’ve said so many times. And God’s covenant is to share…is to cleanse that, cleanse us from the guilt of that, to release us from its power, and to impart to us a life we cannot lose!

But that life connects us forever to a God whose nature is love and mercy! Praise God! That means if you know Him this morning, if you have been born of His Spirit, you are one of those that He has called out of this world to be His peculiar treasure.

( congregational praise ).

And we use that word peculiar in different ways, don’t we? We’re liable to say, yeah, I feel pretty peculiar sometimes. But I’m so thankful that God sees us as unique, and special, and called-out. And I don’t care who you are and how small and weak you think you are, you are…God has His eye on you with a heart of love to prepare you for something that is beyond where you’re at right now.

That’s what He wanted them to understand. And it’s interesting that the first thing that He mentions, that was part of this lesson that they had to learn was to humble them. What is the essence of human nature, fallen human nature?

( congregational response ).

It’s pride! It’s thinking that we’re something, that we’re important, that our capabilities are what we need to engage in order to handle life. We are so geared into a world that we detect through our senses. To us, that’s reality, that’s all there is.

And, of course, we know that isn’t all there is, by any stretch. We live on a prison planet. We live with a mentality that is way too much governed by what we see, and feel, and touch. And God has to take serious measures to set us free from the bondage to that.

And the first thing that He has to do is to humble us, to bring us to a place where we know that we’re not so great as we think we are. To know that we are in a situation that is so over our heads, beyond our capabilities, that the only answer is to experience a rescue, a salvation, that is given to us by somebody else who has the power to set us free, because we have none! We are in a hopeless situation unless God saves us!

( congregational amens ).

Now you know, a lot of folks, when they think about salvation, they think of an event. It’s almost like signing a contract. I’ll repent of my sins. I’ll put my faith in You and You give me a ticket to heaven. And I ‘got saved.’ And it’s an event they’re thinking about in the past. How many of you know that salvation is a process that happens as long as we’re here?

( congregational response ).

Yeah! How many of you wake up in the morning and realize, Lord, today I need a Savior? I need a Savior today! I am…there’s so much in me that still wants to rule me, still wants to control me. There’s so much self that wants to exert its influence upon my heart, my actions, and I need a Savior from that! I need You to walk with me today.

You know, Paul said in 1st Corinthians chapter 1, I believe it is, he spoke of the foolishness of preaching. And, he talks about how it’s foolishness to the world, “…but to us who are being saved…” (NIV). If you will look at the newer translations, they’re picking up a little bit from the Greek that’s accurate. “…To us who are being saved…” That’s present tense, means it’s an ongoing action. It’s something that’s continuing.

And, the saving part is not something where we’re saving ourselves. He doesn’t give us stuff to do and then I can save myself because I know what to do. This is, I need something from outside of myself, that’s beyond my power, every moment of every day I need a Savior, or I’m just gonna walk in my flesh and I’m gonna mess up and it’s not gonna be what God wants.

“…To us who are being saved…” The preaching of the Cross is, what? “…The power of God.” How many of you need power?

( congregational amens ).

Yeah! Yeah! How many of you realize you’ve come through circumstances and you realize, man, I thought I had it? I thought I was okay. I’ve been a Christian for years! What’s the matter?

Well, you don’t ‘got it!’ I don’t either! I don’t have the power. I need Him every single moment of every single day! And you go through the New Testament and you will see that salvation is not simply an event. It’s also a lifelong process.

And Paul even said…spoke of looking forward to a salvation yet to be revealed. Or was it Peter, or both, probably? There’s always this sense, I have been saved, I’m being saved and I will be. I’ll tell you, we’re gonna have to experience a divine miracle in our lives all the way to the end or we ain’t getting there! But, thank God, He is faithful!

( congregational amens ).

Thank God that, “…he which hath begun a good work…will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (KJV). But oh, God, do we need—do we need to take that place of humbling. Didn’t Peter say, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (NIV). We’re more interested in being lifted up, but what is it that’s being lifted up? Most of the time there’s a strong element of pride in it and God alone knows what it takes.

And here was a generation and they didn’t get it all right, by a long stretch. But here was a generation that God had spent forty years teaching simple lessons and He taught it to them by the ordinary, day-to-day activities of life. It wasn’t some spectacular thing that happened. It was just getting up in the morning, let’s collect the manna, let’s process it, let’s take care of the animals, let’s…it’s time to move. Let’s pack up, let’s walk and go.

And, from their point of view, it was a meaningless, daily drudgery that they had to endure. From God’s point of view, He was teaching and preparing and humbling them, bringing them to a place where they would just say, God, I need You every day. And not only do I need you, but I praise You!

( congregational amens ).

He says to remember! I want you to look back and see the journey that I have had you on through different eyes. You took that manna for granted. Sometimes…sometimes you’ve complained about it. But do you have any idea what I did for you? Do you have any idea what other nations experience and how life would have been for them?

I took you to a place where there was no supply. I gave you supernatural food from heaven every day. You didn’t have to worry about going hungry. I cared for you. I was not off in heaven pouting and waiting on another generation to grow up so I could come back and be with you again. I’ve been here all the time. I never left you. In spite of all that was wrong, I was there caring for you, carrying you, bearing, “…you on eagles’ wings…” as He says, in one place.

Oh, what a picture God wanted to paint for that generation and for us, about a God who cares and carries us when we don’t have the strength to go. What an amazing God we serve! Praise God!

It’s not just love as this theoretical thing, but it’s a love that invests everything in bringing people out of prison-planet earth into a kingdom that will never end, whose foundation is love! So He did it to humble, to bring us to a place where we are willing to be honest with ourselves.

You know, that’s the problem. We’re not honest with ourselves. I’m humble. We lie to ourselves! God wants to bring us to an absolute recognition of who we are and who He is. That doesn’t mean a poor-mouth, oh, poor me, I’m worthless, I’m no…it’s not that kind of thing. But, it’s a recognition that without You, I can do nothing! But it’s okay, because You love me. And so, I’m gonna lift my eyes off of this need that I feel in here to be somebody. I’m gonna be somebody because I’m the object of Your love, and Your care and Your mercy!

And so, I can be honest about who I am and who You are, and the nature of the relationship You’re seeking, especially right now, when I’m in need of being delivered. I’m in need of salvation. I’m gonna have an honest assessment every single day without feeling like I’m worthless. Who cares? Oh, do we give in to self-pity and so many different things that just bedevil us. They arise out of our own nature to try to intervene in this relationship that God seeks.

And He doesn’t want a people to go through life and be clueless and have to look back and say, oh, I didn’t understand that. That was wonderful. Thank You, Lord. That’s good. But what God wants is to have a present tense relationship where we are aware of who He is and our relationship with Him so we can enjoy Him, recognize when He is active in our lives and praise Him for it and thank Him for it and be expectant! And not just sit there and expect that well, if He cared about me, it wouldn’t be hard.

Well, that’s not what Jesus said and frankly, that’s not what it takes to deliver me from what I am. If I don’t have things I’ve got…battles that I’ve got to fight, then I’m just gonna go right along feeling my own strength and walking in my own energy and just being…boy, this guy needs…it takes some serious effort to conquer this guy. Oh, we’re proud! Oh, we’re self-willed! Oh, we’re so…I’ve got to get it right! I can do this!

You know, there’s so much that we don’t recognize in ourselves that He does, and He knows what to do about it. And the very time when you’re sitting there chaffing and wondering, Lord, why am I here? Why am I in this wilderness place? Why are things the way they are? They’re hard! They’re just the same every day! I’m just…I get up and I’m going through the same routine. What’s the meaning of all this? Why don’t You care?

And that’s the very time when He’s caring, and we’re not recognizing it! We’re not looking to Him and saying, Lord, thank You that You’re here! God wanted them to look…be able to look back and see the amazing things that He had done for them! He brought water out of a rock, when it was needed, fed them every day, stayed there with His presence. How about your clothes not wearing out? That’s a good thing they weren’t so invested in fashion, in those days.

( laughter ).

But I mean, you think about clothes that don’t wear out for forty years in the wilderness! I mean, God removed them from every natural resource. Why would He do that except to deliver us from self-effort, self-will and bring us to a place where we realize we’re not limited by this world and its resources? We’re not limited by what we can’t do, because we can’t do anything if we just come to realize it! But that’s not the end of the story! We have a God who can work beyond all of that!

( congregational amens ).

And how do we learn that unless we go through stuff, unless we simply experience Him in the hard lessons of life, that seem to be necessary in order for us to learn that stuff? Well, it was for them. Remember! “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness…” (NIV).

All the way! All the way! Do you realize that in your life? I know there are people here who’ve gone through tough stuff in your life. Do you realize if you’re the Lord’s, He’s led you all the way, even in the hard things?

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